Are solar panels worth installing?
“I can think of only one downside to installing solar panels to your home and that is Santa cannot land on your roof for the next thirty years. This will make his Christmas eve harder and more treturous than previous years.”
Seriously though, I was gob smacked when a friend asked me: “are solar panels worth installing?”, to which my reply was: “energy prices have risen every year, year on year, so why wouldn’t you?”
Now this may not be as condescending as it first seems, as my friend in question is intelligent, articulate and may I say very beautiful – however after 10 years of enthusiastically shouting from the hills about solar panels, the problem here lies with me because I see a very different world to the one most people see.
So why are solar panels worth installing?
George Osborne has in his 2013 autumn statement edged all his bets on Shale Gas (coming to a town near you), but putting the environmental issues aside, fracking wells are very short-lived with full productivity being as little as only twelve months for some wells.
The lifespan of shale gas wells is short compared to conventional oil and gas that we are used too and so the likelihood of fracking reducing energy costs is slim as this can only be a short-term sticking plaster solution to the global peak oil problem we face.
“Shale gas outputs commonly decline by 60 percent to 70 percent in the first year of a wells life.”
The world we lived in only a decade ago is vastly different from the world we live in today, it is just that most people are still living in an outdated mindset. Most people have still not fully adjusted from the world of cheap and plentiful energy reserves we have all grown up with and the world of competitive global energy as we now currently find ourselves.
Solar panels by comparison with their three decade lifespan are a much longer term solution for households in our modern times – times which each of us are vulnerable within.
What is competitive energy?
Someone once said to me many decades ago, “let China sleep because once she stirs, you will awaken an untameable beast”. Well China did awaken with a thirst for oil and she is already taking control of the world’s vital resources to feed her insatiable hunger. The African Elephant as an example will be gone from the wild within the decade and its tusks are not even a vital resource.
Since the Iraq invasion of 2003, China has now become its biggest oil customer and making moves to control other importantly strategic resources. We are now nationally competing for limited global resources as are the worlds other smaller nations.
The cosy cheap energy world we all left behind in the 1990s is already a faded memory and everyone should be finding alternative ways or more precisely alternative technologies to reduce dependence on resources that are increasingly beginning to flow East rather than West.
Ironically, even the solar panel industry is not immune from Chinese control as even the rare earth elements which make up photovoltaic cells are now in mostly Chinese control, so solar panelling your home today could be the cleverest thing you do this decade.
“China controls 97% of rare earths which are needed to manufacture photovoltaic cells.”
Christmas shopping is a great analogy for people who install solar panels. A few people in the population get it done early, sit back relax and watch others in a mass panic or frenzy with a smug smile.
Of course the shorthand answer that I gave to my friend was: “this technology will become essential so sooner is always better, especially if you want to claim the feed-in tariff rewards which will be denied to later adopters.”
No political answer either?
The party pledges have been unveiled, with energy saving offers being the political focus of both major political parties, but a ‘£50 discount’ by the Conservative government or the ‘price freeze’ pledge by the Labour party can only be a very insignificant and short term relief remedy for most families.
Unfortunately, you and I live on a planet were politics has very little influence on the outcome of your quarterly utility bills while privatised energy suppliers feather their own nests and as a result, real people now have to choose between eating or heating their homes. This problem can only worsen over time.
Maybe 2014 should be the year you see solar panels and other alternative technologies as “worth installing” just like councils, communities and individuals are now choosing self-generation.
The ‘big six’ energy companies hate the idea of households self-generating, but the smartest households now realise it’s the only way to go, so don’t dilly dally too much because the incentives for solar panels will not be around indefinitely.
With more and more people asking Santa for solar panels, don’t be surprised if Santa is late delivering your presents this year.
What do you think?
"Feel the pride."Stuart Lovatt December 5, 2013
Founder of Heat My Home.